Working for r.kv.r.y. is ironic in that I’ve discovered I’m so adept at suppressing stuff that I don’t even realize I’ve done it.
For years, this date has found me holed up in bed and not getting up until after noon. This year, I had changed the date in my head. I believed the anniversary was the 19th. By then, I would have realized I’d missed the true anniversary date and life would have gone on. Progress.
Oh, no. There’s Facebook and a whole familial vigil going on this morning.
It’s just as well. I didn’t know what else I was going to write about to day, so I’d like to share my first published piece which appeared in the January/February 2009 issue of the now defunct magazine The Rambler.
JANUARY 16, 1997
by T. L. Sherwood
This is what it looks like before everything shifts into surrealism for a while. Romeo stares down his master, me, asleep at the remote. A wet nose nudge does the trick and we’re off to bed. I’ve always been a night owl who likes to drink alone. I’m not the only bartender who will admit this if you ask. We prefer to serve ourselves quietly after work while a sappy movie plays in the background.
I don’t even drink that much. I want a clear head, if not eyes. The weather is spectacular. I regret hanging curtains as the lightening dazzles in the snow storm and I pace window to window to door. It’s blowing too hard to enjoy a more intimate view outdoors. The beauty is enticing but tiring. I finally go to bed; I lay down dreamless. The black backs of my eyelids flash and fumble in opposite colors, re-creating the electric display I’d just witnessed. I’m about to drift off. It’s past midnight. I made it through another day on earth; I can rest assured my tombstone will reflect this.
Gentle tiptoeing sandman is on his way out the door when the phone rings. My temporary boyfriend doesn’t wake up. The dog shifts. I won’t get up. I swear I won’t, though it might be my real boyfriend. Christ, I give up–the true love of my life that has slunk around the background of all my adult relationships. I’m willing to tell him how much I love him, be done with the pretense and go all the way to Texas to be with him; I am that ready to jump. I need to sleep. If I wake up–all the way–I might tell him all this.
Groggily I mumble, “Hello.”
Miles and miles away but closer than Texas is the most different voice. It is my Uncle. Hospital. Heart attack. My mother. Dead.
I sit in the kitchen chair.
I cannot come tonight. There is a snow storm.
He will take my Grandmother and my brother home. It’s a hell of a night for everyone. The connection is severed.
I sit. I stare. I try to lie down again. Romeo half-growls as I snuggle up to my temporary boyfriend. The thunder has passed. The wind is still whipping the snow around outside. I hear the snowplow roughly scrape the pavement with its curved blades. Give it six hours and the roads will be cleared. The sun will rise but nothing will ever be the same again, not even seeing a picture of a man who has fallen asleep in front of a television set.
I agree, it’s not my best work, but an editor thought enough of it to accept it and I am so grateful to Jonathan Tuttle for believing in my work at a time when I was wondering if I had any talent at all…
(*These are just my Creekside Reflections. Your experience may vary.)